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The Bad Beginning: Part One Recap

Lemony Snickett dedicates his stories, A Series of Unfortunate Events, to his darling, dearest, dead Beatrice. The narrator the introduces himself, warning that his stories do not have happy endings or beginnings. He warns the audience that he is going to relate the story of the Baudelaire children--Violet, Klaus, and Sunny--and advises the viewers to watch something more unpleasant instead.


The children take a trolley to the seashore alone, after their parents insist that they go. The day is gray and cloudy, assuring that there are no crowds. Violet ties up her hair and begins their newest project, a while Klaus researches the currents. Sunny, an infant, has them pick out the proper rock so that she can chew it with her four sharp teeth to the proper shape. Violet then marks the stone and skips it into the ocean, and activates a mechanical claw from their picnic basket to retrieve it.

Once Violet and Klaus are satisfied that their project worked, Sunny sees a mysterious figure approaching. It's Mr. Poe, the family banker, who tells the children that their parents died in a terrible fir that destroyed their entire home, and then offers his condolences.

Lemony says that he spent years trying to uncover the source of the Baudelaire fire. However, all that he and his associates have learned is that the fire department didn't arrive in time to stop the blaze.

Poe takes the children go to the ruins so that they can see it. He assures them that have absolutely nothing to worry about, and Sunny spots a telescope among the ashes. Poe assures the children that their parents left them an enormous fortune. Violet will inherit it when she comes of age, and until then they'll be placed with the proper guardian. As Klaus examines the telescope, Poe takes them to his car and they drive off. The banker says that until they find their guardian, the children will stay with his family, including his sons Edgar and Albert.

Soon, the Baudelaires are having supper with the Poes. Edgar and Albert are less than thrilled to have guests, and Eleanora says that she had her star reporter write up a front-page article so that everyone would know the Baudelaires' home was destroyed and they're orphans. Poe is happy to see that he is mentioned as well, and Eleanora figures that he might get a promotion. The Baudelaires go to bed, and discover that they're sleeping in one bed in Edgar and Albert's room. Eleanora makes them admit that they miss their parents so that she can quote them for her headline. Once the parents leave, Albert asks the Baudelaires how they set the fire.

Lemon reports that one brother went into banking and the other lives in a cave.

Later, Poe takes the Baudelaires to their new home now that he's found them a suitable guardian. He says that their guardian, actor Count Olaf, is looking forward to see them. Violet wonders why their parents never invited Olaf over, and Poe admits that he's going to drop them off quickly. Justice Strauss is waiting for them, and admits that she's a horrible engineer, researcher, or bread cutter. The children offer to help her, and Strauss says that Olaf is her neighbor. Olaf's house is across the street and is in considerably worse shape than Straus'.

Olaf takes the Baudelaires to the door and rings the door, but Olaf doesn't answer. Olaf finally answers, and the children notice a tattoo of an eye on his left ankle. He invites them to come in and bring their enormous fortune with them. The inside is as messy as the outside. Poe introduces himself and warns that the Baudelaire fortune isn't to be used to improve Olaf's manor. Once Poe explains the conditions of the will, Olaf says that he hopes to prove himself the father they never had, and quickly gets Poe out.

Once Poe is gone, Olaf tells the children to ask how he does. He says that he is doing better and better, and gives them a long list of chores. Olaf takes them to the messy kitchen and tells them to keep everything gleamingly clean. The library is very dusty and filled with wine bottles. The rest of the manor is no better, and Olaf has chosen a bedroom with one bed for them. He asks what they think, and Violet points out that first impressions are often wrong. Olaf agrees, and says that soon they'll realize they haven't the faintest idea how terrible he is.

The children sit down on the bed and Klaus wonders how their parents could put them there. Violet figures that it will be sorted out eventually, and Olaf comes back in with a bucket and mop. The children start cleaning a bathroom with toothbrushes and shuts them in. Strauss comes to the front door and introduces herself, and says that she wanted to see the children. She has a case in high court coming up and will be too busy with it to come by later. Strauss tells Olaf about the case and then says that she made lamb for the Baudelaires. Olaf claims that the children are in one of their moods, and Strauss admits that she doesn't have any children. He says that the Baudelaires are monsters and all they do is complain. Strauss asks him to give the children the lamb and ask if they'd like to see them, and Olaf agrees.

Olaf goes to the bathroom eating the lamb and complains that the children missed a spot. He then goes back to Strauss and says that they don't want to see her, and the lamb was too salty. Disappointed, Strauss goes home.

The children go back to their bedroom and tell Olaf that they finished his list. He says that they missed one and they have to prepare a large dinner fir his theatrical troupe. Olaf reluctantly gives them some money to buy supplies, and complains that he has to give up his own money because Poe won't release the Baudelaire fortune. He says that he'll be in his secret tower room and forbids them to go into it. Once Olaf leaves, a newspaper gets thrown through the window. The headline says that the Baudelaires are safe with a famous actor.

Later, the children go to Straus' home to borrow her cookbook. Strauss is eager to help them and takes them to her enormous library. They assure her that it's marvelous, and Strauss sees the telescope Klaus has. The justice thinks that it looks familiar and looks for a book on it. She directs them to the nearby open-air market and gin distillery, and takes them there by trolley. As they go, Strauss talks about how she had dreams of being a mother and an actor. She says that they deserve the blessing of a new family with Olaf and with her.

Later back at the manor, the children bring in the supplies. Olaf and his troupe are there and the troupe starts singing praises to Olaf. Once they're done, Olaf tells the children to applaud and says that they've been working on a new production that will change the children's lives. The Baudelaires applaud as best they can while carrying groceries, and Olaf goes to open a box of Merlot for his troupe while they wait.

Violet and Klaus go to the kitchen and cook the meal. Sunny chops the parsley with her teeth and the Baudelaires figure their parents would be proud of what they've done. They figure that they can make the manor their home. The Baudelaires take the food to the dining room, and Olaf soliloquies about whether acting and chasing an enormous fortune is worth it. He then demands the roast beef and warns the children that he can't go easy on them. Olaf takes Sunny and lifts her into the air, chuckling maniacally, and then puts the baby down on a tray of fruit. He tells Violet and Klaus to clean everything and go to bed, and says that they can buy a second bed the next day with their fortune. When Klaus reminds him that they can't touch the money, Olaf slaps him and leaves for the theater with his troupe.

Klaus tells Violet that their new lives aren't better than nothing. They go to bed and as it rains, the roof leaks.

Lemony admits that a long night of introspection can't change everything.

Strauss is reading a book. On the shelves above sits an incomplete history of secrets book.

Lemony says that there comes when all decent adults know that it's time to volunteer.

Mother and Father sit in the back of a van driving off, and figure that their children are in danger. Father warns that they have to escape first.

Written by Gadfly on Jan 25, 2017

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